Cilantro is a popular herb used in many Asian, Mexican, and Indian dishes. It's a green, leafy plant that looks a lot like parsley (in fact, I often have to resort to using my nose to tell the difference between them in the grocery store). Cilantro is high in potassium, while its leafy, fibrous nature makes it good for the digestive system. I happen to love its bright and tangy flavor, but research shows that to some, it smells and tastes like soap. This small minority of people can, however, sometimes overcome their initial aversion.
Growing Your Own Cilantro
Cilantro is a short-term garden plant that doesn't like too much heat. Planting during late spring and early fall works well. It grows best in full sun, in soil with a pH of between 6.2 and 6.8. Cilantro goes to seed rather quickly, so if you want a steady harvest, you should replant every 3-4 weeks, until fall's first frost. The upside to this rapid life cycle is that cilantro often reseeds itself, and pops up again the following spring. Harvest cilantro by cutting leafy stems near ground level, up to one third of the plant at a time. Growing herbs from seed can be tricky, especially for novice gardeners, so I recommend buying small potted herbs from the local grocery store or garden center.
Cooking With Cilantro
The best way to enjoy cilantro is fresh. Drying it or cooking it saps the herb of its delicious flavor. Therefore, you should always add freshly chopped cilantro leaves to a dish right before serving. To kick the flavor up a notch, include a few stems! Combines well with mint, cumin, chives, garlic, and marjoram. Store by freezing in cubes of water or olive oil.